A Feminist Study of "The Dead" Essay

A Feminist Study of "The Dead" Essay

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As the last story of James Joyce's short story collection, The Dubliners, "The Dead" is about a young Dubliner's one day of attending his aunts' party and his emotional changes after the party ends. In the paralyzed city the young man feels the atmosphere of death everywhere. And he often has misunderstandings with people, especially women including his wife. From the main character Gabriel's experience, we can see his personal life is in a strained circumstances. This difficult situation is probably caused by his failure to deal with the relationship with the female characters. Many events happen in the story prove that he can not get a real freedom until he understands the value of woman to improve the mutual relationship.

The female characters are from various social classes and each of them has her own attitudes towards life and love. Lily, the caretaker's daughter is the first character to be introduced to us. In the story she is a representative from the labouring class. Comparily, Gabriel is a well-educated young man who seems to have a bright future. When he arrogantly greets her, "I suppose we'll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?" (Joyce 123). The girl answers bitterly "The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you" (124). Then Gabriel "color" as if he has made a mistake when Lily becomes upset about the subject of men. This is because he never expects his self-conceited good intention will hurt her feelings so much. Instead of comforting Lily, he "without looking at her", kicks off his goloshes and flicks actively with his muffler at his patent-leather shoes. From this we can see he first chooes to avoid difficulty when the conflict between he and the ...


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...ir wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in, was dissolving and dwindling. (156)

The picture of Gabriel's marriage with Gretta emerges from the above psychological description of Gabriel, that is, superficial happiness and substantial crisis.

At last the mention of snow is a summary of the perception of events and of the characters' thoughts. The snow is falling all over Ireland, on both the living and the dead. The snowfall symbolizes and predicts that Gabriel cann't uncover the feelings and thoughts of women. In short, the interchange between Gabriel and the female character like Gretta, Miss Ivors, Lily and Aunts Mary and Kate indicates the Gabriel is not able to reflect accurately upon his own motivations, desires, and actions.

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